Book Wars

April 17, 2010 in Bill Compton, Character Rants

It’s been a while since I had a rant. Alan Ball has been conspicuously quiet of late and my blood pressure is all the better for his absence. But this isn’t a True Blood diatribe…I’m saving those for June.

There’s something else I want to get off my chest.

Dead in the Family is due for release in early May and with the release date approaching, reviews are coming in as well as some major spoilers. Just last week the full first chapter appeared in the paperback edition of Dead and Gone – containing a surprise scene between key characters that is already wreaking havoc in the fandom before the new book even hits the shelves.

Advance reviews of Dead in the Family have been overwhelmingly positive. Yet from a small group of the readership, there has been nothing but bitching, whining and hate.

These readers have realised that Sookie is not going to treat Bill Compton in this book in the way they believe she should. And they are ridiculing and slagging off the author in any corner of the internet that will provide a forum for their vitriolic ranting.

I feel like I’m in the fucking Twilight Zone.

In the two years I’ve been immersed in this fandom, I have been accused of being unable to separate the Sookie books from True Blood more times than I care to count. Of course I am not alone here, many book readers have found themselves clobbered with similar accusations when they’ve expressed disappointment or otherwise with aspects of the show.

With the release of another Sookie book, it seems we are seeing the reverse side of the show versus books debate. On some fansites and blogs, book readers who prefer the show for it’s sympathetic treatment of Bill Compton are letting fly at Charlaine Harris for reasons I am not quite able to get my head around. These readers seem unable to get straight in their heads that the books are source material, and the show is an interpretation of the story and the characters.

I would like to explain something to these readers, if I may.

Charlaine Harris invented these characters. Sookie Stackhouse, her story, and every character within it germinated and grew from her imagination. She has nurtured each of them over the ten or so years she has been writing this series. Harris has overseen their journey from the fairly undeveloped, one dimensional characters we met in Dead Until Dark, to the complex and layered characters we have come to know and love in the later books of the series.

True Blood on the other hand, is Alan Ball’s interpretation of this source material. It is not the “correct” interpretation – there is no such thing as a correct interpretation; that is a complete oxymoron. Since True Blood is simply one person’s version of the books it is to be expected that Ball’s work will be criticised, and rightly so. Others have also read the source material, and they may view it through a different lens to the one he is using to bring his version to the screen. This happens any time a book is made for television or film, and I’m sure Mr Ball has his Big Boy Pants on and was fully prepared for a trouncing when he decided to make this show.

Charlaine Harris is allowing Alan Ball to play with her characters for a fee, but let’s be very clear. The destiny of these characters has always rested – will continue to rest – with the author who created them.

Harris has not “thrown Bill under a bus”. She does not “hate” him, nor is she “ignoring her most complex character.” If it suited Sookie’s story for Bill’s character to have more page time, he would have it. If she ever meant for Bill’s “complexity” to have more of an impact on Sookie, she would have written him that way. Charlaine Harris has not “lost the plot” of her own story – how does an author even do that and continue to have their books published? In fact, to the vast majority of readers (you know, the ones who have put this series on the NYT Bestseller List) Sookie’s story is following a perfectly logical arc that many of us identify with.

There is a reason Charlaine Harris has not explored the character of Bill in any real depth since the early books. There is a reason he is no longer at the forefront of the story. There is a reason we will not see Sookie run into Bill’s arms in book 10 after he risked his life for her, as these readers seem to think she should.

The reason is very simple. The author has determined – as is her right, being the author and all – that Bill’s proper place in Sookie’s life is exactly where he is, right now. And the evidence for the logic of this development is the fact that most readers are fully on board with it.

There’s a big difference between book readers ranting about Ball’s handling of the characters on the show, and Trubies and Book Bill fans ranting about what Charlaine Harris does with the characters in the books.

Alan Ball is interpreting a story that already exists. Charlaine Harris is writing that story.

By my estimation, that gives her the right to do whatever the hell she pleases. Without readers bashing her judgement, bashing her writing, or sulking off with their petticoats in a twist just because the author dares to presume that she knows her own characters better than they do. I am completely bewildered as to how fans of a version of her work could accuse her of having her own story arse about face and of not understanding her own characters.

I would like to respectfully offer those fans a slightly modified version of their own advice.

If you don’t like it…stop reading.

Or better still, go watch some TV.

Charlaine Harris – Is Eric “worth it”?

April 1, 2010 in Bill Compton, Blood Ties and Blood Bonds, Eric Northman, Sam Merlotte, Sookie Stackhouse

Here’s some teasers from an interview the girls at sookiestackhouse.com did with Charlaine Harris a few days ago.

You can listen to the full interview at their site, and I took the transcript from here (thanks J9!)

Such a great interview – the questions are really insightful. I’m so sick to death of reading interviews with Charlaine that are all about True Blood… it’s great to see some meaty questions about the books for a change.

Some interesting excerpts:

Q: When it comes to Eric, you have stated in the past that Eric is all about Eric, and we know that there are some Eric supporters who genuinely feel that Eric has genuine feelings for Sookie. And then there are other readers who feel that Eric uses Sookie as a means to an end. Is there a chance that you can tell us how you personally perceive Eric’s involvement with Sookie?
CH: I personally feel it’s a little bit of all of the above. I don’t think there’s any one right answer to that.

Q: Considering how Sookie is now married to Eric—according to vampire law—will Bill respect her decision, and is it possible for Bill to move on with his life?
CH: Well, he doesn’t really have an option with that.

Q: Despite the fact that Sam doesn’t want to be involved in supe politics, he seems to know everything that happens. How does he find out this information so quickly or when will we find out Sam’s role in the supe world?
CH: Well, he certainly follows the supe website very closely, and I think that’s how he gets most of his information. Plus, he’s got a lot of friends in the supernatural community.

[Ummm....WHAT? I'm telling you, there's something coming down the line with Sam. Supernatural website? COME ON!!]

Q: Is there anything you really regret that you put into the book series?
CH: Oh, God, yes. The blood bond. I really regret that. You don’t know how much I regret that. I must have answered, like, a million questions about it until finally I just said, “Okay that’s it. I’m not answering any more questions about the blood bond.” You know, I wish I had really never, never, never thought about the blood bond.

Q: If you were Sookie, what would you consider?
CH: I would consider whether the good part of being Eric’s girlfriend was worth the bad part of being Eric’s girlfriend. I would consider what the future was likely to hold if I stayed that close to him.

Q: We want to know if you want to leave a message for your fans?
CH: Well, I do hope they’re gonna buy the next book, and I also hope they’re gonna like it. It has a very big ending—an almost Shakespearean ending—and I hope that it isn’t, you know, too over the top. But it was a heck of a lot of fun to write. Just come along with me—I’ll show you a good time.

Fashion Hell in Sookieverse – #2

December 3, 2009 in Bill Compton, Character Rants, Polls

Get set for more toe curling fashion disasters! It’s day 2 of the “Fashion Hell in Sookieverse” poll and today’s nominee is….

Bill – Grateful Gran’s Dead (Dead Until Dark)
So you show up at your girlfriends house in a Grateful Dead t-shirt and jeans. What’s so bad about that, right? It’s actually kind of funny for a vampire right? Bill, this was your big chance to show us that you actually do have a sense of humour. And then you walked inside, wearing that t-shirt to find your girlfriend screaming over HER GRANDMA’S MUTILATED DEAD BODY.

Fashion fail Bill. EPIC FAIL.

So does Mr Sensitive, New Age Boyfriend apologise to Sookie for his grossly inappropriate casual wear? Erm…no. Does he remove this shirt that went from slightly daggy to outright offensive in a matter of moments? Nuh-uh. Does he even acknowledge his monumental fashion faux pas? HELL no. No interest in redemption, our Bill. For anything really.

To be fair, Bill can’t be held entirely responsible since he had just gone home to get changed and didn’t know at the time Gran was dead (or at least I don’t think he knew…). But I will whip him for it anyway.

Bill listens to Kenny G in his car so he deserves what he gets.

Highly inappropriate attire for finding dead grandmothers

Tomorrow’s Victim: Eric

Previous Noms
#1 – Sookie: When Maenads Attack

Kill Bill?

October 30, 2009 in Alan Ball Rants, Bill Compton, Dead and Gone - Book 9

Preface: I have edited this post after a couple of days of stewing over what went down at Paley. In it’s original form I was so gobsmacked by the implications for the story that I overlooked alot of other things. Things that I am not so happy about any more.

It’s certainly been an interesting day in Sookieverse! Well online, anyway.

Answering a question at yesterday’s Paley panel regarding how the True Blood writers will handle Bill’s diminished role in future seasons (if they are to follow Charlaine Harris’ books), Ball dropped a pearler.

I know in the book world that Charlaine had to be talked out of killing Bill in the last book but I’m saying in our world Sookie and Bill have a connection that will not die.

Rumors have abounded since the release of Dead and Gone that this was the case, however Harris has refused until now to confirm it. Ball’s remarks have forced Harris to take to her website today in full damage control – mostly to allay the inevitable hysteria that will ensue on her very pro-Bill forums, I presume. Her confirmation that she did entertain this idea means that she considers Bill expendable at this point in the story. To be forced to come out and admit that will alienate the proportion of her book following who are still rooting for him to be Sookie’s happy ending. It’s not at all a good position to be forced into if you want to maintain reader interest and continue to sell books.

Which brings us to the obvious question. Why would Alan Ball – a man who is notorious for his ability to manipulate his meaning, skirt the question, and keep audiences guessing for years on end – make a gaff as monumental as this? I don’t believe for a second that this was a slip of the tongue. Ball doesn’t screw up like that. Especially in a room full of rabid fans, who he knows full well will dissect and critique every syllable that comes out of his mouth.

Along with many book readers, I am livid at Ball for interfering with the books in this way. My inner cynic wonders if he thought it might force Harris’ hand. He would obviously prefer not to see the main character of his fanfic killed off in the source material – if he blurts out at a writer’s panel that the author considered doing just that, is he hoping that a premature reveal will force her to change her mind? A number of Trubie Bill fans have commented in various blogs that since DAG has already been published and she didn’t kill him, this is all a moot point. NO IT IS NOT. Just because Harris decided to let Bill live in DAG, that does NOT mean that she doesn’t have plans to see him bite the dust in a future book. Is Ball’s big mouth going to cause yet another rethink?

And what of Charlaine Harris, who has spent years keeping her intentions for the Bill/Sookie/Eric triangle tantamount to a state secret? Charlaine has said multiple times that the final scene of the books is written in her head, and that she has known who Sookie would be with since the second book. If Bill was involved in this ending in any way, she’d hardly consider killing him off in Book 9. So now we know that Bill is more than likely not “the one”. While I firmly believe that Eric is the HEA, I still don’t want to be told that Bill definitely isn’t – even though I’ve suspected that was the case for quite some time. There is a difference between suspecting something and knowing for certain that it is true. By removing a major player in the suitor race, Alan Ball has ruined this aspect of the series for book readers. In my opinion, Charlaine Harris should damn well sue him. She has been nothing but respectful when discussing his treatment of her world and her characters (when surely, there have been times where she must have uttered a “what the FUCK is he thinking?!”…as we all have). For him to throw her under a bus like this is really bloody shameful.

And an apology is rather conspicuous by its absence too. Surely if he hadn’t meant to do it he would have commented by now. I hope that he saw fit to at least do so in private.

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